Last December, I led an introductory class/workshop on prayer and using the then-new Treasury of Daily Prayer. I was asked to publish my notes from the workshop, which I never did; the current sale on the Treasury reminded me of that. (Did I mention it is 50% off? Go buy it!) Here are some of my notes, which are very rough; I have eliminated/modified/summarized a lot of what we did, which was more hands-on, walking through the book:
After some Introduction and Preliminaries discussing the Layout of the Treasury of Daily Prayer (TDP), we walked through placing the ribbons:
Blue: Flexible placement.
TDP recommends using it for “Prayers for the Baptized Life” (page 1312)
However, that comes shortly after the purple ribbon, and is easily remembered because of its placement.
I have my blue ribbon on the Schedule for Reading the Psalms over Thirty Days (page 1436)
Other places you might want to put it:
Small Catechism, page 1446
Preparation for Confession and Absolution, p1458
Preparation for the Sacrament of the Altar, p1465
Brief Instruction for Those Preparing for Holy Communion
After discussing the Lectionary, I talked about the importance of prayer in daily life (a lesson which, alas, I continually need to re-learn myself):
Setting the Stage:
- Make a commitment to daily prayer
- Schedule a time or times, either by the clock or by daily landmarks (e.g., after you get up, after breakfast, before lunch, 10pm, before bed)
- Communicate with others in your family what time you want to pray as a group
- There will be days when you miss it because life intruded, you were lazy, sinful, sick, etc. Don’t worry or let that cause total failure. Simply start again at the right place.
- Don’t try to do too much – better to do something, however small, than to set yourself up for failure and guilt.
- Find a quiet place
- Turn off TV, radio
- Close doors if noise might distract you
- Turn off cell phone, email notifications
- Agree that you will not answer the phone. Let it go to voicemail. It can wait.
And the lesson I learned from using the Brotherhood Prayer Book (and Ben Mayes’ helpful retreats): Spend a minute or two in preparation, putting your ribbons in place (and explaining, if necessary, what will be happening to those who are joining you)
Make a list (index card or scrap paper will do) of people you want to pray for. Family members, pastor, church, godchildren, the nation and leaders, the sick, suffering, mourning; finally, your own struggles and needs.
We then spent some time talking about the different offices of prayer (i.e., Matins, Vespers, the short orders for individuals and families, etc.), and Luther’s advice on starting simply instead of trying to do too much.
On the hymn appointed for each day:
Office Hymn: we will use the hymn stanza for December 6 – sing it if you know the tune; when you are on your own and the tune is not familiar, you can look it up in the hymnal, play it on the piano, or just speak it. Do you what you can and what you have time for. Some may wish to look up the hymn in the hymnbook and sing the entire hymn.
On using the Bible Readings for each day:
For the Bible Reading, we will read just the Old Testament reading.
Since it’s morning and we’re planning to pray later, we can leave the New Testament reading till then. If this is the only time you would be praying today, you could read both readings if there is time.
Another option would be to commit to reading the NT readings one year, and the Old Testament readings the next.
Where to put the “Writing”:
When the Sermon or Catechetical Instruction time comes in the Office, we’ll read the writing and the summary of the Saint being commemorated, or remembered
Using the Prayers:
For the prayers, we will read the prayer of the day in the year (Gold Ribbon), the prayer for the day in the week (Purple Ribbon), and any special prayers
When you are praying by yourself, you simply say all the parts yourself. Nothing else changes. Still speak out loud, unless it would not be acceptable. In those cases, even if you can move your mouth and whisper very quietly, do that.
Discussion of Prayer and Meditation according to a Scriptural Spirituality
Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio
Prayer is difficult
“Devotion” is so called because it requires devotion, dedication, discipline. The cares of the world, distractions, and sometimes the sinful thoughts that it doesn’t really matter or that nothing really changes can make us give up quickly.
The Fathers spoke of the “exercise of piety,” and like bodily exercise, playing an instrument, mathematics or foreign languages, if we do not keep on exercising, practicing, reviewing, we will lose what we had, and so the last state is worse than the first.
How do we pray?
The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, and He gave them a set prayer to use: the Lord’s Prayer
In, the Early Church devoted themselves to “THE Prayers,” implying a set order of prayer.
The Old Testament set out a pattern of evening and morning prayers at the tabernacle, and the Jews who could not attend would pray at the same hours, with set prayers
From the Psalms, we see certain patterns:
“O LORD, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You.” (
“I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your Word. My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your Word.” ( )
“Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous judgments.” ( )
The greatest challenge is not to lose sight of the objectivity of the Word.
Christian meditation, Christian spirituality is oral and tangible. We do not experience God in the silence of our hearts; and while we can marvel at the power of God and discern His glory from creation, we cannot know His will from beholding a sunset, mountain, or ocean. We only know His will from His Word.
So when you are meditating on the Word, when you are using the Treasury by yourself, speak the Psalms, Readings, and prayers out loud. This does several things:
It compels you to slow down.
Through engaging not just the mind but the mouth and the ear, more of the body becomes engaged and thus the Word becomes more memorable.
Pray as though someone were listening; God just might be!
The Word of God, and especially the Name of JESUS, drives the demons away and causes angels to rejoice. Name the Name of JESUS wherever you are; at the Name of JESUS every knee must bow.
Luther: “You should meditate [on the Scriptures], that is, not only in your heart, but also externally, by repeating the written words externally and rubbing them (like a herb for its flavor), reading and rereading them with diligent attention and reflection, so that you may see what the Holy Spirit means by them.”
“Spiritual” does not mean intangible; in Christian thinking, it is not the opposite of physical. That which is Spiritual is that which is of and from the Holy Spirit. So for something to be Spiritual, it is something done in, by, or for us by the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit works through the means of Word and Sacrament. So don’t look for “spirituality” in an inward meditation of mind-clearing, deprivation, or silence. Look for spirituality where the Holy Spirit is: in the Word (and in the Sacraments)
The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, and He teaches us about Christ through His Word. Not mental guidance or immediate illumination, but faith and guidance through the Scriptures, which are external to ourselves.
Read pp. 18f in Kleinig on “The External Word”
Meditation during the week flows from and towards the Divine Service, wherein we receive those other tangible gifts: the Sacraments of Absolution and Holy Communion.
Pastor Esget’s excellent blog Esgetology:Waiting for the Parousia, is worth the read.